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Robin Elise Weiss, LCCE

Study Says Moms Need Two Months Sick Leave in Pregnancy

By November 7, 2012

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Smiling Newborn

Did you laugh when you read that headline? I certainly laughed when I wrote it. I didn't laugh because I don't believe it to be true, but I laughed because I don't know anyone in the United States who can afford to do this, short of true medical emergencies with their pregnancies. The study that we're talking about here, was done in Norway, where they have excellent parental leave policies in place. This has had to have played a part in the findings, so much so that I think for my purposes, that's the bigger story - why don't we have leave in pregnancy?

Why do pregnant women take leave?

This study showed that the further a long you were, the more likely you were to be using some leave. They also pointed out the various times in length versus commonality, so for example, while only 2% of mothers in the study took leave for depression or anxiety, their leave periods tended to be longer.

According to Moms Rising, paid time off for parents can decrease infant mortality, and yet 51% of mothers have no paid leave, while the other 49% are cobbling together various bits of leave from sick time to vacation to pooled leave (if available).

Talk to us in the comments. What was your leave availability? What did you take? What would have made your pregnancy or even merely postpartum easier or even healthier? Did your partner get any leave?

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Signe K. Dorheim, Bjorn Bjorvatn, Malin Eberhard-Gran. Sick leave during pregnancy: a longitudinal study of rate and risk factors in a Norwegian population. BJOG 2012; 10.1111/1471-0528.12035


Photo April's Grapevine Photography

November 8, 2012 at 11:47 am
(1) jnsunique says:

I’m still at work and my due date is less than a week away (first child). I’ve only taken time off for prenatal visits. But I’m healthy and enjoy my job. I’m an engineer and my job is low-stress, little/no lifting and includes a fair amount of walking around. I believe that I am much better off physically and mentally working than sitting around at home waiting. I’ll be taking 12 weeks of post-partum leave.

November 8, 2012 at 8:47 pm
(2) DJ says:

I was working full time in a long term temp position when I got pg with my first. I was so sick from day one that I was late every day, spent most of my day on the floor in the ladies room and was miserable. Everyone said if I could get past three months it would improve – no improvement and I gave my notice and was allowed to go home that moment. I never did stop getting sick 30-40+ times a day and never knew anyone that sick when pg. Later I learned I had was is called hyperemesis gravidarium. I was sick that often right up until and through my labor. I never did return to work. When pg with my second I was even sicker.

Fast forward to my daughters pregnancies and she made my pg look mild. With her second she was a student and student teaching. She ended up being hospitalized 21 times for severe dehydration but she hung in there with a lot of flexbility from instructors.

I now volunteer with the Help Her Foundation that provides information, research and support for HG women and their families. For some it is devastating since they are unable to work and unable to have any income – it is almost unbearable for single women with no other sources of income and some even choose to terminate :(

We definitely need something better for the women that really do need it.

November 12, 2012 at 12:36 pm
(3) Megan says:

I am pregnant with my first child. I consider myself incredibly lucky because I have been a stay at home wife out of choice. If I’d been working, there’s no way that I could have been pregnant and held down a job without being reprimanded for all the time I would have needed off from work. I was sick with nausea and vomiting throughout my first and second trimesters. Mornings were the worst for vomiting while afternoons and evenings were horrible for nausea. Most days during those first two trimesters were spent laying in bed feeling like I was going to die. Even getting out of the house to go to doctor appointments was a struggle for me. My husband had to take over housework and cooking. I couldn’t even walk through a grocery store without vomiting. Life just stopped for me completely. I couldn’t imagine commuting back and forth to a 60 hour a week job like I used to feeling as horrible as I did.

Luckily, my health improved in the third trimester and I started feeling much better. I feel like I have my life back now but I worry I will be just as ill if I get pregnant again. I would like to return to work at some stage but I don’t think I will risk getting pregnant and working at the same time.

November 12, 2012 at 12:46 pm
(4) Maria says:

Always worked till the very end. My last daughter was born 3 months ago and I returned back to work 1 week later. I’m self employed.

November 12, 2012 at 1:28 pm
(5) Filiz says:

I think it depends on the pregnancy and mom’s flexibility to work from home for instance on how long to take time off during pregnancy.

With my first, i was working in the US as a consultant, travelling weekly till month 7 but then working from home till due date which worked well.

Now i live in Switzerland, and typical practice is to take about a month off as medical leave before due date as maternity leave can only start after birth by law. And now that i’m in a more regular corporate role with less flexibility, i found it a god blessing to have the medical leave…

The only downside is if you are over due it becomes very boring / unnerving to wait, after staying home and waiting for DD already a month

November 12, 2012 at 1:37 pm
(6) Elina says:

I was lucky to stay at home while pregnant. I also can not imagine working. With regards to the women that struggled through their pregnancy, including myself, I now know it was due to lack of proper nutrition. Today I would recomend every women to look into Weston price foundation to learn what healthy really is and not what we are taught to believe.

November 12, 2012 at 1:57 pm
(7) Brittany says:

I am currently 35 weeks pregnant with my first. I am only able to take 3 weeks of paid leave, and I will be working up until my due date. I can’t afford to take any more time off.

November 12, 2012 at 4:07 pm
(8) Renee says:

I just had my first at 40 at 38.5weeks. We utilized AFLAC to help compensate along with available vacation & sick pay. We are very budget conscious. I will be staying home for 3months before returning to work. I worked up to the day of delivery.

November 12, 2012 at 7:55 pm
(9) Jessica says:

I delivered at 39 week via c-section and was forced off work by my doctor a month early due to hypertension. I give a standing ovation to the moms that worked up to their due dates! My hips, lower abdomen and back hurt so bad all the time that when I actually had my c-section the pain was far less then actually being pregnant lol. I am lucky with my job though and recieved medical pay while I was off work for the hypertension, recieved 8 weeks maternity pay for my c-section and also had sick pay banked as well. We are fortunate that we were that lucky! I took a total of 12 weeks off after our daughter arrived.

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